By Cian Molloy - 02 January, 2017
Prayers for politicians coping with Brexit are included in the joint New Year’s Message from the leaders of Ireland’s four main Christian denominations.
The church leaders say: “Last year we remembered together the events of 1916, events that shaped relationships and the future of these islands. A century on, new events of a different kind have the potential to alter political and economic relationships here, as the UK prepares to leave the European Union. It is our united prayer that our political leaders in Belfast, Dublin and London will have wisdom, grace and patience during this process that will have implications for the whole of Ireland.”
The message came from Roman Catholic Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Church of Ireland Archbishop Richard Clarke of Armagh; Rev Bill Mullally, president of the Methodist Church in Ireland; Rev Frank Sellar, moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; and Church of Ireland Bishop John McDowell of Clogher, who is also President of the Irish Council of Churches.
Immediately after the UK vote to leave the European Union, the value of sterling plummeted, hitting Irish exporters hard, but since then currency prices have stabilised. Nevertheless, Brexit poses major long-term challenges in the Republic of Ireland’s relationship with its closest neighbour, including the question of what will happen the relatively free movement that we currently enjoy between the Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. While the majority of Northern Irish people didn’t vote in favour of Brexit, they will have to cope with the consequences.
The church leaders also prayed for those who continue to suffer as a result of conflict in the world, which they described as “an uncertain place”. They said: “As we enter this New Year we are mindful of people who continue to suffer … especially in the Middle East, and the humanitarian crisis that continues to unfold in Syria … As we begin our journey through this coming year, we are reminded of the Greatest Commandment that our Lord Jesus Christ gave us: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength … [and] Love your neighbour as yourself’”.